As we head into 2023, the post-pandemic landscape is coming into greater focus.
In addition to economic instability, over the past few years, companies have encountered a workforce reckoning. The resulting work revolution is driving change in how we work and the role of internal communications in the workplace.
So, what’s coming in 2023?
Although we don't have a crystal ball (at least one that works, anyway), we do have data and trends to inform the path forward.
At Fratzke Consulting, we’ve identified six predictions to help internal communications leaders plan for this year.
1. Purpose-Driven Companies Will Continue to Thrive
Over the past few years, having a clear and compelling purpose to engage employees internally and customers externally has become increasingly important. What was once a “nice to have” is now a “need to have.”
Your brand’s purpose should clearly define why your company exists and connects deeply with your audience, including customers and employees. This “why” fuels employee engagement and retention with purpose-driven companies reporting higher productivity and growth rates, along with 40% higher workforce retention than competitors.
Internal communications leaders have a unique opportunity to bring this need to the forefront for brands that don’t have a clear purpose. For those companies that do have a purpose, internal communicators will play a key role in amplifying this messaging throughout the organization to drive employee engagement.
2. Human-Centered Communications Rise to the Forefront
As employee and customer values evolve to prioritize shared purpose and making the world a better place, brands will need to develop a human-centered approach to internal communications. But, what does that mean?
Human-centered design is a process that begins with empathy and research to truly understand the end user and build a product or experience that meets their needs. It’s a design methodology that has existed for decades.
A similar way of thinking is now being applied to the employee and customer experience. A number of leading brands are already pivoting their employee value propositions to be human-centered (i.e., Apple’s Career Page: “Join a Team and Inspire the Work”).
Top research firms, thought leaders and consultancies are all singing a similar song: Brands need to evolve their internal and external systems, processes, and messaging to be human-centered. You may hear different words like employee-centric or customer-centric, but it’s all the same tune.
To develop a human-centered approach in 2023, internal communications leaders need to understand their employee audience and will increasingly turn to surveys, employee interviews and other forms of research to build understanding, empathy and — ultimately — a brand that resonates.
3. Internal and External Communications Will Become One
In our digital-first world, it’s becoming increasingly common for internal communications to become external news. A great example of this is the widespread reporting on Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover and his employee memos. Elon’s internal emails quickly became front-page news.
This highlights the importance of the collaboration between internal communications and public relations in coordinating news releases and messaging distribution. Companies that seek to take a more holistic approach to communications will consolidate these two functions into one.
In addition, brands are now turning to social media channels like TikTok and Instagram to share employee experience content that establishes their brand as an employer of choice.
In 2023, internal communications will work even more closely with public relations and seek to increase team knowledge of external social media platforms. This will include developing content and video skills to connect with an employee audience that is increasingly gravitating toward compelling short-form video content.
4. Personalized Digital Employee Experiences Become Table Stakes
As the line between internal and external communications blurs, employees are expecting to interface with more advanced technology internally. Part of this is introducing a more personalized digital employee experience, including a mobile-first intranet and apps. These personalized experiences should be based on the employee’s role, job level, location and interests.
The need for this technology has only grown with the increase of hybrid and remote work. The digital experience is not simply a conduit for workplace news or information — it’s become an essential part of the employee experience.
In the coming year, internal communications teams will introduce more personalized digital experiences to help build a sense of connection and culture among decentralized employees.
5. Employee Personas and Journeys Will Be Mapped and Defined
Marketing teams have been defining customer personas and mapping customer journeys for years — largely because they’ve had the technology and tools to customize content for each stage of the journey and each audience.
Now that internal communications technology is evolving to allow for increased customization and personalization to employees, internal communications teams are seeking to better understand their audience.
That’s where defining employee personas and journeys come in. This documentation creates a focus for internal communications teams to strategically craft and share content that caters directly to each audience.
Having a documented employee journey map and personas also gives internal communications and HR leaders the tools they need to create a shared understanding of the employee experience with executive leadership and business partners across the company.
6. Companies Will Focus on Outcomes, Not Hours
Since the pandemic began, more flexible work dynamics have been introduced. Hybrid work has quickly risen to the top of employee and brand preferences as it provides a healthy balance of in-person collaboration and at-home productivity time.
Reassessing the five-day workweek is the natural next step. According to A Global 4 Day Week Pilot with 903 workers at 33 companies, the average revenue rose 38% compared to the same period last year, and the vast majority of employees (97%) preferred to continue the schedule. The updated workweek was a win-win for both businesses and employees.
With the increase of hybrid workers and the four-day work week, the next frontier in the work evolution is to measure employee performance based on specific outcomes, not hours. This provides accountability in more flexible working environments and builds trust between leaders and employees.
As brands introduce new ways of working, internal communications teams will play a key role in strategically communicating changes and supporting leaders and employees throughout the process.
As the work revolution continues in 2023, internal communications teams are evolving to meet business needs, decentralized working models, provide greater personalization, and meet the demands of their employee audience. Internal communications leaders have a unique opportunity to lead the way in their organizations by introducing a human-centered approach, implementing new technology, fueling purpose-driven cultures and clearly documenting their employee personas and journey.
2023 is filled with opportunity. The question is: How will you rise to the challenge?
Lisa Fratzke is a partner and executive strategist at Fratzke Consulting, specializing in helping clients achieve transformative growth through integrated communications, employee engagement and culture change. With over 15 years of experience with top brands, Lisa spent nearly a decade at The Walt Disney Company in public affairs and communications partnering with global business segments to communicate key reputation drivers and increase employee engagement. Learn more about Fratzke Consulting and find Lisa on LinkedIn.